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Bears, Eagles play crucial meeting Sunday night
By: Zach Cohen - StatFox
Published: 12/22/2013  at  5:12:00 AM
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CHICAGO BEARS (8-6)
at PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (8-6)

Kickoff: Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET
Line: Philadelphia -3, Total: 55.5

Both the Eagles and Bears will be playing for a much-needed victory when the two division leaders meet at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday night.

Chicago got starting QB Jay Cutler back last week and was able to defeat Cleveland 38-31 while covering as 1-point underdogs. This keeps the club one-half game ahead of the 7-6-1 Packers. Philadelphia, on the other hand, lost 48-30 in Minnesota, which put an end to its five-game winning streak, but still kept them one game ahead of the Cowboys who blew a 23-point halftime lead in a loss to Green Bay. The last time these two teams met in 2011, the Bears defeated the Eagles 30-24 as 8-point underdogs in Philadelphia. This series has been close since 1992 with Philadelphia holding a 7-6 SU advantage, but Chicago holding the 8-5 ATS edge. This includes a 4-1 ATS mark (3-2 SU) on the road. Both teams have a slew of negative betting trends for this matchup. While the Bears are 0-7 ATS off a non-conference game over the past two seasons, the Eagles are just 2-12 ATS at home during this same timeframe. Both teams are relatively injury-free, with the biggest potential absences both being on defense with Chicago LB Lance Briggs (shoulder) and Philadelphia S Kurt Coleman (hamstring) both considered questionable for this game.

Can the 49ers stay hot with a convincing win on Monday night? For the answer, connect to NFL Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 season and playoffs. The experts continue to flourish, combining for a 54.2% ATS record (58-49-7) over the past eight weeks. StatFox Brian has a 64% ATS (23-13-3) mark in Best Bets since Week 7, and is 55.4% ATS (31-25-5) this season. StatFox Scott is 58% ATS (25-18-1) in Best Bets since Week 4, and is also a robust 67% (16-8) in NFL Totals since Week 9, improving his success rate to 55.2% for NFL Totals this season. StatFox Gary has six perfect weeks in Best Bets since Week 4, and is 64% ATS (9-5-2) in the past six weeks of NFL Best Bets.

Chicago QB Jay Cutler was a little rusty in his return from an ankle injury on Sunday, but he got the job done in the fourth quarter to lead his team to a 38-31 victory. Cutler overcame two first-half interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and finished 22-of-31 (71%) for 265 yards (8.6 YPA) and three touchdowns. The Bears rank second in the NFL in scoring at 29.0 PPG and have averaged 275.8 YPG through the air (5th in NFL), but have struggled mightily on defense due to their inability to stop the run. They are allowing 152.4 YPG on the ground on 5.2 yards per carry, both which rank last in the league. Chicago must shore up some of these issues if it is going to be able to contain the Eagles excellent running game propelled by LeSean McCoy. However, as long as the Bears' receivers are healthy, this offense will be tough to keep up with in terms of scoring points. Alshon Jeffery has 80 receptions for 1,265 yards and seven touchdowns this season, and across the field is Brandon Marshall who has 90 catches for 1,185 yards and 10 touchdowns. Chicago also has a solid ground game with 117.6 rushing YPG (13th in NFL) on 4.6 YPC (8th in league) thanks in large part to RB Matt Forte (1,200 rush yards, 4.7 YPC, 9 total TD). He has 72% of his team's rushing attempts this season, averaging 18.4 carries per game.

Although the Eagles were blown out in Minnesota by 18 points, QB Nick Foles was very effective in the game, throwing for 428 yards, three touchdowns and just one interception, increasing his gaudy season numbers to 23 TD and just 2 INT. The Philly defense just couldn’t get stops when it needed to, which is a common theme this season, especially through the air where the club allows 292 passing YPG (2nd-worst in NFL). The team allowed Vikings backup QB Matt Cassel to throw for 382 yards and two touchdowns in the game. Although Eagles top WR DeSean Jackson had a great game with 10 catches for 195 yards and a touchdown, the Eagles were too quick to give up on their ground game that leads the NFL in both rushing yards (152.9 YPG) and yards per carry (5.0 YPC). They’ll need to slow the game down and get RB LeSean McCoy (8 TD), who leads the NFL with 1,343 rushing yards, more involved against a Bears defense that can’t stop the run. McCoy rushed just eight times for 38 yards against the Vikings, but if the Eagles can figure out a way to get him 20 or more touches against Chicago, then they should be in very good shape.

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